Brighton and Hove is to become a site for Pagan pilgrimages following the unveiling of a blue plaque to recognise the “mother of modern witchcraft”.

Doreen Valiente, who lived in the city for much of her life, is regarded as the most influential witch of the 20th century.

Along with publishing many of the religion’s teachings, she is credited with changing the public perception of witchcraft. Ashley Mortimer, from the Doreen Valiente Foundation, said: “People used to think of witchcraft as all strange satanic ceremonies and rituals. However, now people think of us as dancing around in fields for the summer solstice.

“This may not be wholly accurate but she did do a huge amount to change the public perception of witches and witchcraft.”

Mrs Valiente was born in London but little is known of her early life. She moved to Brighton in the 1950s and lived in a council flat in Tyson Place until her death in 1999.

As well as unveiling the plaque, members of the Doreen Valiente Foundation are also in talks with Brighton and Hove City Council about opening a museum to house her extensive collections and writings.

Mr Mortimer, who is one of the group’s trustees, said the city could become a pilgrimage for Pagans around the world.

He said: “Doreen is celebrated across the world and is regarded as the mother of modern witchcraft.

“It is one of the fastest-growing religions in the US with millions of members worldwide.

“It could be hugely beneficial for the city. I know that a few witches are travelling across the pond for the blue plaque ceremony.”

The event is being held on one of the religion’s most important days, the summer solstice on June 21. It will begin with a procession from the Old Steine and there will also be performances from bands and singers as well as the Hunter’s Moon Morris Dancers.

Mr Mortimer described modern witchcraft as a “part revival, part survival” of the ancient pagan religion.

Believers worship a variety of deities and celebrate special days throughout the year.